30 June 2010

Giveaway: Last Chance Saloon!

There’s still time! Today is your last chance to enter my Giveaway for some gourmet Bohemien chocolate made right here in Wellington. See the original post here.

All you have to do is leave me a comment to be in with a chance to win. If you’re not too sure how to leave a comment, here’s a recap for you:

  • At the bottom of this post (or the original post) click on the ‘Post a Comment’ or ‘xx comments’ link
  • This will open up a new screen with a ‘Leave a Comment’ field to enter your text
  • Once you have finished entering your comment, select a profile
  • If you don’t have a Google account, you can select Anonymous, but be sure to write your name in with your comment so I can identify you!
  • Click on ‘Publish your comment’ 
Entries will close tonight at midnight NZ time. Winner will be drawn Thursday evening via http://www.random.org/.

Good luck my fellow chocolate lovers!

26 June 2010

Putting the Wonderful back into Winter

Enough is enough! In all honesty, I thought twice about writing the Battling post the other night, wondering if it was wallowing a bit too much in self pity. But then it is a record of our REAL life, the good and the bad. Life can't always be roses. We wouldn't be honest if we said it was, never letting anyone think we ever had bad days. That said, let's move on.

We can always choose to celebrate the season we're in. Regardless of whether our limbs ache and our heads feel fuzzy, we can still have fun.

Yesterday, June 25, was Midwinter Christmas Day - exactly half way to Christmas. So today we celebrated it, in style. We put up the Christmas tree. We decorated it and sang along to Christmas carols. Mylo was entranced by red baubles and tinsel. Noah loved being able to reach even higher on the tree than he could at Christmas, although still needing Daddy's help to put the angel at the very top. We read all the Christmas stories we could find, including Mr Men's Mr Christmas, and Slinky Malinki's Christmas Crackers (he's one of Hairy McLary's friends).

Our celebration wouldn't have been complete without a little added creativity. A floating centrepiece was created which took pride of place on our festive table, with mini 3-D Christmas trees adding a splash of greenery. From early afternoon, the house was filled with the gorgeous smell of our mid-winter Christmas roast chicken cooking in the slow cooker. It was a long wait till 5pm but oh so worth it!

For some extra festive fare, Noah and I made Coconut & Apricot Truffles. I thought they would be quick and easy. Not so much. Easy to mix, just very time consuming rolling each one in coconut. Not helped by having discovered at the last minute we only had a limited amount of coconut. Rationing was required, which meant rolling each one very carefully. Pretty moorish though.

Coconut & Apricot Truffles (makes about 50)
250g dried apricot
1/4 cup brown sugar
Rind of 1 lemon (or orange)
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 tin condensed milk
Coconut to roll in.

Chop apricots in quarters, then put in food processor to get finer. Put in a mixing bowl. Add brown sugar, lemon/orange rind, coconut and condensed milk. Mix well.  In a separate bowl, put enough coconut in that you can roll the mixture in truffle size balls. Put in fridge to set, and keep in fridge.

Baba arrived at 4pm and we all sat down to our feast at 5pm, complete with Christmas crackers and festive hats. Did the roast chicken and bountiful vege taste sweeter than any other roast we've had? You bet.

And as far as our Winter To-Do List goes this year, our Midwinter Christmas Celebration gets a big tick!

Our favourite tune of the day was 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day'. Well today, for us it was!


25 June 2010

Just another...

nite in our crazy household!

If I had the time and inclination, I would have done my usual titivating using Windows Movie Maker to edit out the boring bits and make it a bit shorter and sweeter.

So instead you'll have to put up with us raw and edited (and completely unstaged) for six minutes...think you can hack it?!

24 June 2010

Creative Fun: Puff Paints

I saw this super cool idea for some creative indoor fun from One Crafty Mama via the lovely Meeks blog at Juggling Motherhood last week. All you need is:

1 tablespoon self-raising flour
1 tablespoon salt
Few drops of food colouring
Water to mix to a paste.

A rainy Sunday morning providing the perfect opportunity to try it out.

Once your masterpieces have been made, just pop in the microwave for 10-30 seconds and funky puff painted pictures will pop up!


This is us right now.

Battling to be healthy on all fronts. It has been over a month (and more like 2 if you count my struggles post wisdom teeth extraction) of ailments that have come crashing in one after another.

I was coming right after my horrible dry socket tooth experience. Things felt good again.
Then Mylo came down with hand, foot and mouth and was terribly grizzly, refusing most food/drink for a few days.

He bounced back in time to survive the first week at daycare - just. And was promptly off sick for most of his 2nd week.

That turned out to be a nasty phlegmy cold which took him about 10 days to get over fully - with his first tooth popping through right in the middle of it all. Every morning he woke up with a terrible encrusted nose that took a good few minutes of wiping with a warm, damp cloth just to clear enough space for him to breathe properly.

In the meantime, the rest of us were limping along with various colds/coughs/body aches.

Then last week Noah had a high temperature and had to have a day off daycare - luckily that was shortlived, and was just the day.

Sunday night I went to bed, and as soon as I lay down I felt queasy. Wondered if one glass of wine and a row of Dairy Milk Chocolate could be to blame. Thought it unlikely. Tried to ignore it for about 4 hours before getting up and coming downstairs for an ice cream container...just in case. Bleary-eyed asking Mark the progress of the All Whites game (it was half time and 1-1) at that point. Back upstairs to bed, but within about 5 minutes was hugging the toilet. That toilet got a lot of hugs over the next 4 hours. Spent all of Monday dozing and sleeping (so not me!) the bug off. Crawled downstairs at 3pm to lie on the couch and catch the All Whites replay but couldn't keep my eyes open through the second half. Boy was I wiped out. Early to bed Monday night.

The next thing I know it's 11pm Monday night, and Mark is upstairs telling me how he's just spent the last half hour cleaning up after Noah has thrown up all through his bed, on the carpet, on the bathroom floor and over the toilet. Mark also managed to slip in the sick on the floor as he was running Noah into the bathroom and put his back out again as it is still pretty fragile and prone to going out at the slightest thing.

By the way Mark = My hero for cleaning all that up singlehandedly and leaving me to get the restful sleep I needed after having had the bug the night before.

So Noah stayed at home for the day on Tuesday.

Now one of Mark's teeth has flared up with what he hopes is just a nasty infection and not another (we're at 5 and counting) root canal needed. So an urgent trip to the dentist required this morning and antibiotics needed. Still in a lot of pain and has had to take painkillers and Voltaren to get through the day today.

Mylo is coming down with another cold. As am I. Strepsils and lemon honey are my friends.

Just when we think we're at the end of it, BAM we get hit by something new. So we're battling away, some days just battling to get through the day and safely out the other side. I think we've popped more Panadol and Nurofen in the past month than in the past 2 years!


I still believe that my Almighty God who is powerful above all else in the universe is in control, we ARE in the palm of his hands, and this is just a season we're going through. I know we learn more in the testing times than in the good times. This is obviously a season to grow and trust more in Him. To rely on His strength. To claim His healing for us all. We WILL overcome.

19 June 2010

Focus on Family

Although we live far away from our family, when we do see each other, it is so very special. Sometimes it's only for 24 hours, and we make the most of every single minute we have together.

Sometimes we make a big effort to get out and explore together. Walks on Wellington's waterfront or pottering around local play parks. And when we go visiting, walks up and down Nana & Poppa's road to spot the local wildlife. Pilgrimages to the Gardens to glory in the colour and wonder of the changing seasons.

Other times we shut the world out and just 'be' together. Often there's no words necessary, it's just the enjoyment of knowing that we're in the same place at the same time.

We're so lucky to have been able to adopt other members into our family, like Baba and Aunty Jackie who live locally and we can see more often. They are just as much part of our family now, and we love it. As well as regular fish n chip nites (Baba) or sleepovers (Aunty Jackie), they've both been super duper babysitters for us on many occasions!

This year we've already been blessed to have an extended visit from Grandma who was with us for the month of March. Now we are on the countdown to the arrival of our wonderful brother and sister-in-law from Wales in six weeks' time. James has been to NZ before (only for about 10 days so he could attend our wedding in 2004), but it will be Ann-Marie and 7-year old cousin Jack's first time visiting The Land of the Long White Cloud. The last time we were all in the same time zone together was 2 years ago in the UK. Jack had just turned 5, Noah was a wee toddler of 18 months, and Mylo was still a mere sparkle in our eye. And so the build up and excitement begins. We are longing to see you, our precious family. We are counting the days.

Memories of our time together in 2008 

17 June 2010

It is better to give than to receive

I've received a lot lately. By that I mean I've won 2 great giveaways in the past 2 weeks. First, there was Meeks at Juggling Motherhood celebrating a year of blogging heaven, where I won a simply scrumptious pack of Lindt white chocolate. I love reading her blog as this fellow Wellington mum of four is so clever at finding fantastic craft ideas on the Internet, and she blogs so beautifully about how to balance being a mum and an individual. It totally made my day when I read on Meek's blog that I had won the pack. We put the chocolate away in the cupboard when it arrived, and were really planning to save it for a 'special occasion', but after a tough couple of weeks with various new sick bugs that seem to just keep on taking us out, Mark and I were in desperate need of a treat tonight so we did have a teeny weeny taste - talk about melt in your mouth cookies and cream sensation. Wow.

Then a few days later, I won a $100 Ocean Spray giveaway through my online Mindfood subscription - which just reinforces how much I love that magazine! I would post pictures but we devoured most of the goodies as soon as they arrived which included 3 Refresher Drinks, Cranberry Trail Mix, Salt & Pepper Grinder and a signed recipe book.

So, I'd love to now return the favour, allowing our blog readers the opportunity for a little indulgence and good cheer. It can't come at a better time for those of us in NZ who are in the grips of the darkest days of winter, hanging on by a thread for the shortest day to pass, longing for lighter evenings, a little more sunshine and less SAD (seasonal affected disorder) feelings, if we're being honest!

If you'd like the opportunity to win some indulgent Bohemein chocolate, this is it!

Bohemein is based in Wellington, and sells handmade, exquisite gourmet chocolate in flavours such as wasabi (crazy but amazing), and sea salt. Having tried them, I can promise you these are a sensational sensory experience. There's an anonymous saying that reads 'Forget love, I'd rather fall in chocolate'. I don't know if I'd quite go that far, but I know for some people chocolate comes pretty near to heaven. So if that's you, then here's what to do.

To enter:
  • Leave a comment
  • Open to anyone, anywhere on the planet
  • Entries (comments) will be open for 2 weeks, closing on 30 June 2010
  • Winner will be drawn randomly through random.org

Good luck my fellow chocolate lovers and thanks for reading!

A talent grows....

I have been following with wonder and pride the growing talent of my brother Nic's photography.

He had only had his digital SLR camera a few weeks when he captured a great selection of photos on our Christmas break, not to mention the lovely family shots he captured of us at the Botanical Gardens.

Since his return to Sydney after the Christmas break, Nic has been making the most of every opportunity to get out with his camera (albeit apart from a few weeks when a speck of water got inside and it had to go to the camera doctor, I think he felt a bit like he'd lost a limb!). Here are a just few of my favourite shots poached from Nic's Flickr photo albums....(mine are not in high resolution so would be a lot more impressive with the full-size files)


And the man himself.....

God has sure given you an eye for a beautiful shot Nic. You have inspired me to want to take better photos, and I've learnt a few tips and tricks from your talent (note the stack of stones in Nic's shots is similar to the photo in our blog header!) I hope that you can continue to get much enjoyment from developing and exploring your talent. And when you get to Europe later in the year, I'll be praying that others will be able to recognise your talent too :-)

16 June 2010

Life at the window

What thoughts lie behind these beautiful eyes? As he hovers at the window, does he dream, like me,  of a faraway land, where the summer sun shines, and winter ails and colds are but a distant memory?

Gazing out of a window is a glimpse into so many other worlds.

We can gaze out of our own house windows taking in all of nature, watching plants swaying in the breeze, seeing how the seasons change brings different and unique colour throughout the year.

At the huge windows of an airport terminal we watch planes taking travellers on all kinds of adventures and bringing them safely home again.

At a ticket counter window, we pay for the pleasure of escapism into a movie or show where we forget our own life and become immersed in the stories unfolding before our eyes.

From a car window, we see the landscape ever changing, mountains, rivers and trees, rushing by at great speed.

And this particular window is just perfect for a young adventurer to find his feet.

To play a little.

To explore his surroundings, learning how a window works. Learning about limitations, for though we can see so much, we cannot ever grasp it until we move past the window and out into the world we look upon.

It is for us to discover that through the window is life that exists far beyond our wildest dreams.

What a nice surprise....

I sure wish I was living in Richmond Street or Newton Street in Fitzroy, New Plymouth last week. I love New Plymouth and Taranaki with a passion anyway, and I can only imagine how cool it was for the people living behind these doors to open their doors and receive such a lovely, unexpected surprise....

All Blacks Door Knock (click on the link to take you to the video)

A day they'll all remember for a while I am sure.

10 June 2010

The letter of the week is.....S

This week at daycare Noah is learning the letter S. But in our lives, this week the letter S stands for Sleet. On Tuesday night, we experienced Several waves of Southerly Sleet Showers that were Substantial enough to make the garden look like it had a dousing of Snow. The temperature outside was about 3 degrees whilst all this was going on so the Sleet Stayed around for Some hours....brrr...winter is officially upon us and we Sure felt the full force of its power.

Meanwhile, inside, our boys were Snuggled up together on the couch. Poor Mylo had another case of the Sniffles over the weekend, so had to Stay home from daycare two days so far this week. He does look a little peaky in these photos, bless him. And no photo of Noah would be complete without his ever present 'food moustache', this particular night it was remnants of his eggy-peggy on toast.

In fact, if I'm honest, it's not just Mylo feeling under the weather. We're all fighting viruses and Sniffles and feeling generally Shady. The focus is on just trying Survive this week one day at a time.


Oh the sweetness of seeing a gentle loving little hand stroking another little head.

Over the long weekend, we also played hairdressers and Styled Some Super Spiky hairdos. Any excuse for Noah to get into the mousse and hair gel so he can look like Daddy. And Mylo now seems to have enough hair to get a little Spike going to get in on the action. He is Sure entranced with his Smiley big brother!

05 June 2010

A change of season

We survived Week One!

I loved my first week at Learning Media. I was able to met many of the staff, had an opportunity to meet most of the Board, as well as participating in a Leadership half day on Friday. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to my return to work. The passion and commitment that people at LML have both for what the company does and what they do as individuals is really obvious. It's something I'm already proud to be a part of!

Little Mylo also had a good first week at daycare, if you ignore the fact that he barely slept! I was a little concerned when I picked him up on Tuesday to find out he had only slept 20 mins the ENTIRE day! That was the worst day, but the other days weren't much better. However, it is still early days, so hopefully once he realises that the sleep room is for sleeping, and gets used to other children and teachers being in and out of the room, he will just relax and get the sleep he needs. It wasn't as if the teachers didn't try hard to get him to sleep, he just outwitted and outlasted them on most occasions...monkey! Today (Saturday) he had 3 hours sleep during the day as he was clearly trying to make up for the rest of the week! Overall though, the teachers have said what a happy, cruisy, and curious wee soul he is, commando crawling everywhere and getting right amongst all the action! He clearly spent the week at daycare learning a few new skills, as he can now pull himself up on the coffee table, chair or couch into a standing position which he wasn't doing last weekend!

As it turns out, we have timed our change in routines well. This weekend is a long weekend in NZ (Queens Birthday), so it means working/daycare will be shorter for us all next week. Today we baked up a storm, savoury muffins and chocolate M&M cookies, before heading out to the botanical gardens for some fresh air. We welcomed back the first real patches of blue sky yesterday in what seems like weeks (although probably only two), and oh how lovely it was to see it, however briefly. Today dawned sunny, but the storm clouds were starting to gather again tonight, so the rest of the long weekend may be spent indoors.

Just why it was so lovely to get out for an hour this afternoon. There were still a few signs of the fading autumn around in the varying shades of golden, crunchy leaves underfoot.

Winter is well and truly taking over, only resisted on the odd occasion by plants tough enough to withstand its ever widening grip.

Before long the glorious, fiery exhibitions will fade, with the only splashes of colour seen from the likes of this holly bush.

Surprisingly, a few roses were still fighting for their chance to bloom, although the rose garden and flower beds right around the gardens have taken on a much more sparse look these days. The winter pansies do their best to fill the gaps until the spring tulips welcome in the new season, which is still so far away.

There is much poignancy in seeing the changing of the seasons. Much like the seasons in our lives, ever changing. So apt for where we are in our lives right now too.

The weekends now become our treasured time, of stolen moments and soaking up every last minute of family being together.

What a privilege to make our time together full of wonder and pleasure for these eyes.

And as little or as much as we choose to do, it matters not, as long as we're doing it together.

And when Mr. 8 1/2 months discovers that standing is far more fun than crawling, you can bet we were there to support him in his achievements.

As it turns out, the opportunity to investigate a tin of tuna on the coffee table proving just the right motivation for this munchie to make his way upwards...up, up and then hey peeps, I'm upright!

Let Operation Elevate Things Further North begin!


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